Archive for the 'life decisions' Category

on giving thanks

I’d better write this, lest I procrastinate any longer…it’s already been a week since Thanksgiving!

A few things I’m thankful for today:

  • Sunshine! (Okay, not today…but there has been a remarkable string of nice days lately.)
  • The fact that our home has a working heater keeping us at a balmy 68 degrees! (Of this one I am acutely aware, since our thermostat batteries died last night and the heater didn’t run.)
  • This one probably deserves a post of its own, but if you haven’t heard yet, I’m simply delighted (and still just a little awed) to announce that this beautiful, amazing young lady is now my girlfriend!

(Sorry about the poor-quality photo…there was an Amishman running the camera and he forgot to turn on the auto-focus.)

  • Today was the 20th birthday of the awesomest little sister ever. Happy birthday, Beth! (Aww, blast, I guess I can’t do anything with the “I am a cow” poster this year…) I’m glad you’re along for the ride that is this life.
  • My wonderful parents, who are faithful correspondents, good people, and always supportive.
  • So many friends in the Goshen College diaspora…I miss you!
  • My MVS housemates, who are good cooks, good listeners, and pretty much fun.
  • The chance I have to work at ONE/Northwest, doing something I enjoy for a cause I care about while working with people who have lots to teach me but also are interested in my own opinions.
  • The church communities I’ve been a part of — Assembly Mennonite and Seattle Mennonite — and the energy they give me for working for peace and justice in a world that has too little of both.

And for those of you looking for an update, here is a brief visual synopsis of my Thanksgiving weekend…

Thursday: dinner and general laziness at Sean and Aaron’s

Friday: I met Katie downtown after detouring around the big parade…

…and we headed up to visit her aunt and uncle on Camano island. It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend of Christmas decorating, playing Ti Chu, dozing by the fire, baking shortbread cookies, and generally pampering ourselves.

Life is good!

on the End of an Era

My parents finally got around to selling our trusty, rusty old 1988 Honda Accord. It was time–the bumper has been tied on for a couple years, we haven’t dared take it out of the county since we got our new car in 2003, and with Beth and I out of the house there is little need for two vehicles. Still, I can’t help feeling wistful. We owned the car beginning in 1993, and it served us well on many a cross-country roadtrip in its day.

Ah well…I’m sure the hundred bucks will be useful as well. 🙂


on Starting My 23rd Year

Thanks to all of you, my dear friends and family, who sent me greetings on Sunday, my 22nd birthday. I am blessed with extraordinary people to share this life with.

I had a lovely weekend, the highlight of which must certainly be on Saturday when I made my way to the book sale put on by the Friends of the Seattle Public Library. This biannual event is truly a sight to behold: an entire exhibition hall filled with row upon row of tables laden with folios waiting to be examined. And PACKED with people! You would have been hard-pressed to find a few feet of table not occupied, and the line waiting to pay stretched along the long side of the hall.

I walked home with the following:

  • something on Antarctica from National Geographic press (already passed along to my fellow Antarctica conspirator)
  • The Bantam New College French-English Dictionary (just $0.75 and some time and a new language can be yours…what fun!)
  • Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon (featuring Frito Bugger and his efforts, with the assistance of Goodgulf, to destroy the Great Ring)
  • Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick (a favorite from my parents shelves)
  • Linux Device Drivers by Alessandro Rubini (just in case anyone tries to challenge my geekhood)
  • “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (better catch up on that classic literature now that I actually have time to read)

And all this for only $5.75!

My actual birthday on Sunday was also quite nice. Following the service at Seattle Mennonite Church which included a commissioning of us VSers, I took off with friend Katie to the final Mariners game of the season, where we ate very garlicky garlic fries, were amused by multitudes of mascots present for Kid’s Appreciation Day, and tried to stay warm; and where the team, happily, won. Then back to the VS house for a little celebration with cake and ice cream (thanks guys; you rock!) and an outing to St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral for the Compline service before bed.

And how do I feel about starting my 23rd year? My Grandpa Hank wrote and reminisced about the months following his 22nd birthday, in which he “graduated from college, began graduate school, met the girl of my dreams, found my own housing and in general enjoyed life” (!) I guess we shall see if I can live up to that excitement. One thing I have been realizing is that, having just made it out of the clutches of my parents ventured into a new part of the country and started VS, it is already time to start thinking of some new long-term goals, so that I have a place to direct my energy. If you happen to be in possession of supernatural guidance regarding my future well-being, do let me know. 🙂 In the meantime, however, with few exceptions, life is good.

on the Transition

Greetings from Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas. I just finished my week at Camp Mennoscah, just outside of the bustling metropolis of Murdock, KS (population 378), where I was oriented for the Mennonite Voluntary Service program I am beginning. The orientation sessions themselves were fairly good, although a fair amount of review for this Goshen College graduate who’s been muttering core values like “servant leaders,” “global citizens,” and “compassionate peacemakers” for the past 4 years. The really wonderful parts of the week were the surroundings (contrary to expectations, the Kansas prairie has so much LIFE), the food (our meals were home-cooked by former VSers), the people (what can I say…people who decide to give up a year of income in order to help change the world are pretty sweet).

Now I’m sitting here waiting for my flight back to Chicago, where I will spend the night at the Last Homely Home of the East (many thanks to Abby, Becca, Steph, and Jess, who are my gracious hosts and guardians of two of my bags for this week). Tomorrow afternoon I’ll catch another flight from Chicago on to Seattle, where I’ll be reunited with the one housemate I know from college, the three housemates I met this week, 5 or so continuing housemates whose terms are ending in a month who I met briefly in February but haven’t really gotten to know, and 1 other new housemate. (Did I mention the living situation for the next month looks a tad crowded? Ah well, here’s to intentional community.)

By the way, welcome to those of you from ONE/Northwest who found this blog. Thanks for the words of encouragement, and I’m looking forward to meeting all of you first thing on Monday morning!

on Packing

A few (mostly) real-life story problems:

  • David is trying to create a cardboard box for shipping his hammered dulcimer. The dulcimer is 44″ long, 19″ wide, and 5″ thick. David wants the dulcimer to be protected by at least two thicknesses of cardboard and half an inch of bubble wrap on every side. What design will allow David to use as little cardboard as possible? How much cardboard is required?
  • Lab Activity: David is trying to figure out how much stuff to take with him to Seattle. He is flying on Southwest Airlines, which allows 3 pieces of checked luggage with a maximum allowed weight of 50 lbs. per piece. However, he is also allowed one carry-on bag which only has a size restriction: 10″x16″x24″ (there is no weight restriction on this bag). Devise a technique to estimate the density of David’s clothing, and then work with a lab partner to carry out your method. Then determine the maximum amount of clothing (by weight) that David will be able to take with him on the plane, assuming that he only packs clothing. Bonus question: If David wants to take along some heavy books, where should he pack them to minimize the amount of clothing that they displace?
  • Essay: It is 11:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening. David leaves town at 1:00 p.m. Sunday. David knows that it would be wise to start packing now, but he would prefer to put it off as long as possible. Conduct a SWOT analysis of both options and compare and contrast David’s choices. Are there any other options David is overlooking? Should David just give up on the whole darned packing business and assume everything will work out in the end when he gets to Seattle? What is the meaning of life? Please answer in 100 words or less.

on Goals For the Next Year Or So

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted anything. The summer charges ahead, filled with lots of good things including bike rides, cookouts, game nights, hymn sings, bowling, and even a bit of working. I am getting to the point where going to work all day every day is starting to make me a little antsy, so I’m glad that I have various changes of pace to look forward to: a camping trip next weekend, a family reunion at the beginning of August, various extended family visiting during the next month, and eventually heading to Seattle. (Of course, Seattle will not mean the end of full work days, but at least I will have a new place to explore, which will hopefully stave off the boredom of routine for some time.)

In an attempt to jump-start my re-entry into blogdom, I thought I’d post a list of “goals for the next year or so” that I jotted down on May 17 while I was in Europe:

  • become more fluent in German, French
  • learn to cook well
  • read classic literature
  • practice hammered dulcimer, piano
  • regular exercise: running, biking, and/or working out
  • keep in touch with friends
  • research genealogy
  • learn to juggle
  • learn to play chess*
  • stop biting my nails and start brushing my teeth**
  • learn Python, Ruby***
  • become more familiar with music and art history****
  • read the Bible more and be prepared to explain Christianity to someone who’s interested
  • go camping and hiking a lot
  • attend workshops on sustainable building
  • tithe regularly
  • get contacts
  • record my grandparents’ stories
  • design a lifestyle that gives me freedom to travel while also treating the Earth with care
  • get to know the lore and culture of Washington / Seattle

There’s obviously a fair range in how much time and effort these will take. And I notice that it is predominantly a list of new things to learn…and not so much about big life-determining decisions. But I always find it helpful to review which of these little things I want to be working toward, as well. After all, most of them are things that will make life more enjoyable no matter what I end up doing. (On the other hand, maybe I just like making lists…)

*Yeah, I know, everyone’s always amazed when they find out I never played chess. I mean, I know how the pieces move, but that’s about it.
**Yeah, I know that’s gross. I did think twice before posting this one on my blog. But there it is.
***These are programming languages, for the less geeky technology-challenged among you.
****Humanities, you have failed me. (Okay, not literally.)

on the Meaning of Life

from IM:

(11:11:22 PM) Elizabeth: do you have a purpose, an ultimate goal, understand the deep meanings and significance of your life here on earth…
(11:11:32 PM) davisagli: those are all overrated
(11:11:42 PM) davisagli: I’m mainly looking forward to eating some peaches this summer
(11:11:42 PM) Elizabeth: good
(11:11:48 PM) Elizabeth: peaches?
(11:11:54 PM) davisagli: first thing that came to mind
(11:12:01 PM) davisagli: it’s like Hobbes’ desire for a sandwich
(11:12:04 PM) Elizabeth: ah
(11:12:27 PM) davisagli: (if you can’t make an analogy to Calvin and Hobbes, your philosophy is probably suspect)

on Options

I have too many good options for what to do next year. I am of course grateful for the range of opportunities open to me, but trying to determine which is the best option sometimes makes me want to go curl up into a little ball and take a nap, rather than carpe-ing the diem. (Which diem should I carpe, the inferiorating (and not just because of the disgusting Eng-Lat-ification) question festers.) The question has been brought to a head this afternoon by the arrival of a list of choices from the service organization I applied to, which I now need to prioritize.

Option 1: Seattle, WA. I just visited Seattle with the men’s chorus and like the thought of living somewhere with mountains, the ocean, and winters slightly warmer than (albeit as grey as) Goshen’s. I also have 3 good friends already living in the Seattle area–having a few people around that I already know would be nice for this introvert. My work would be for an organization that provides web and network support for environmental groups–very much up the alley of the part-time work I’ve been doing for the past few years.

Option 2: Washington, DC. Washington would also be a fascinating place, though I must admit the West draws me more. A definite plus would be that I have an aunt, uncle and cousins living in DC. The work assignment would again be in IT design and support for nonprofits, but would also include a half-time component in a computer training center. That would be an interesting challenge; potentially good, but I’m not sure I like working with people that much.

Option 3: La Jara, CO. Here’s one that’s not in the city — but I’m not the biggest city fan, so that’s fine…and I do love southern Colorado. The work would be for a Boys and Girls Club, maintaining their computer network. Their is a decently large Latino population in the area, so it would be a chance to practice my Spanish. The service organization is particularly anxious to fill this position. But it’s less likely to turn into a job offer than the previous two, and less likely to be somewhere I’d want to stay long term.

Option 4: Goshen. There is a decent chance that I would be able to get a salaried programming job here next year. My current boss is eager to keep me around, because the other guy who knows the system well will likely be leaving for grad school. The opportunity to make a bit of money would be nice, and I would get a bit more time with my Goshen friends. On the other hand, this seems a bit like the easy option, and I know that after spending 19 (minus 1.3) years in Goshen I don’t want to stick around too long, for the sake of growth and independence.

Then there is a small part of me I just noticed this evening which is still yearning for something more….some time overseas? I haven’t quite identified what it is yet. I think it is a yearning for a full life, for a life in which risks have been made and in which I’ve walked faithfully as a disciple, and found peace, or an impulse and opportunity to work for peace. Of course, the options outlined above wouldn’t necessary preclude this. But while I find computer work interesting, I’m not sure I’ve ever quite been able to imagine how it could lead me to that which I am deeply yearning for.

Sooo… Help! How do I make this decision? I would certainly appreciate your prayers for direction in my discernment.